Derry dog trainer on behavioral issues and building a business in lockdown
A Derry dog trainer who set up her business during lockdown has opened up about pet behavior issues and the importance of training owners too.
Lisa Dunne established Ruff Walks in October 2020 after being surrounded by dogs all her life, training German Shepherds with her father for competitive obedience classes.
During confinement, it was time to turn this passion into a business. Lisa spoke to MyDerry about starting her own business during lockdown.
Lisa said: “My friends and family encouraged me to start training and walking dogs, but honestly I didn’t think there would be a demand. I was wrong.
“I opened my business in October 2020 with just one dog to walk and two dogs to train. By Christmas 2020 I was fully booked until April 2021.
“From there, bookings are made after booking and now I am booked six months in advance. I started with clients only in Derry and now have reached out to Donegal, Coleraine and even as far as Belfast. »
Lisa has seen the direct impact the lockdown has had on dogs and their owners, and offers advice for those considering getting a dog, particularly in the run up to Christmas.
She said: “Dog trainers are busier than ever. The lockdown has caused an increase in people wanting dogs to keep them company at home.
“Owners have been home with their ‘locked down’ dogs since day one and have therefore showered them with love and affection, but have never spent the time teaching the dogs to be alone. This causes a lot of problems.”
For many, they would assume that these behavioral issues coming from “locked up” dogs were due to no or poor socialization at an early age.
Lisa wants to set the record straight.
She said: ” The problem usually isn’t that the dogs haven’t been socialized. It’s that the owners showed them way too much affection at all the wrong times and socialized them poorly from the puppies.
“Socialization isn’t what you think it is, it doesn’t mean allowing everyone to pet your dog, or taking your pup to meet every dog on walks so they become ‘friendly’.
“Socialization is the ability to teach your dog to ignore everything in his environment except you. Your ideal dog can go anywhere and everywhere with you and stay in a calm state of mind all the time.”
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For Lisa, she sees the impact of the Christmas Dogs a few months later, where the behavioral issues begin to worsen.
Wanting to discourage dog shopping at Christmas, Lisa said: “Please don’t buy a dog for Christmas.
“If you think you want a dog, do your research on the breeds and then find a reputable breeder.
“During the summer months, dog trainers are inundated with customers saying their 6-8 month old dog is destroying the house or is out of control.
“If you decide to get a puppy, invest in a trainer to get you on the right track. Always choose a trainer who shows his work, you want to see before and after.”
Customers with Ruff Walks They are always told that help is just a phone call away, as Lisa makes a connection with every client and dog she trains. Lisa knows that training doesn’t stop after one of her sessions.
She said: “Although my job title is dog trainer, I have to admit that I mostly teach clients.
“I teach my clients how to work with their dog in a partnership. After sessions with myself, I hope all my clients leave feeling like they have been given the tools and knowledge to to succeed.
“I’m also proud that once you’re part of the Ruff Walks family, you’re here for life, so if in 2 years you need help, I’m just a call or a message away. .”
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